The UK government revealed that operators will phase out their 2G and 3G mobile networks by 2033 to free up radio waves for 5G and 6G services.
EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three agreed to the timetable, the government said.
BT, which owns the EE network, said in July it would phase out 3G network by early 2023, followed by 2G, which is more than 25 years old, later in the decade. Other operators will share their plans in coming months.
The government said setting a date to end 2G and 3G services will make it easier for new equipment makers to enter the market because they will not have to support legacy technologies.
British government wants to end the reliance on a handful of suppliers after China’s Huawei was banned from new networks last year. Britain is supporting the development of Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN) technology, Reuters reported.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries, who is visiting her counterpart in the United Sates, on Wednesday announced 50 million pounds ($66.2 million) of additional funding for Open RAN projects.
The government said open networks can feature components from multiple suppliers within one mast site or allow for components to be exchanged or used as replacements at masts that, until now, have been kitted out by a single supplier.
The new plans include a joint ambition for 35 per cent of the UK’s mobile network traffic to be carried over Open RAN by 2030, £36 million in funding for fifteen projects to trial the technology across Scotland, Wales and England, and a £15 million cash injection for the SONIC prototype testing facility for next-generation telecoms tech.
“Switching off 2G and 3G will enable operators to transition fully to more energy efficient and high capacity networks to the benefit of customers. We are working with government and wider industry to support the maturity of new RAN solutions to open up further opportunities for innovation and new services in the future,” Hamish MacLeod, Director of Mobile UK, said.